116. Amina: So far all we have been hearing from the prosecution are half stories cleverly twisted to point all fingers at my client. Now we are going to listen to the only true version of this case. We will start at the very beginning. Nkem how did come to live with the okudili’s ?
117. Nkem:I came from the village my father died when I was baby. Things were really tough and my mother wanted me to have a good education I was her only child. So she sent me to live with her Cousin.
118. Amina: Her cousin, being your Aunt?
120. FX: door opening and closing
121. Mrs O: …and so this were you will be sleeping. Your duties apart from cooking and cleaning will also include bathing the children and washing their clothes. I am warning you right now, if you don’t complete your work on any day, that day you will not go to school do you hear me?
122. Nkem: Yes Aunty
123. FX: door opens
124. Mr O: So this is where you are …
125. Mrs O: Honey you are home… welcome.
126. Mr O: Yes, I just came in. Who is this?
127. Mrs O: You know that small girl that I said was going to ask them to send from the village. That my big aunty‘s daughter?
128. Mr O: Yes
129. Mrs. O: She is the one.
130. Nkem: Good evening sir.
131. Mr O: Good evening. What is your name?
132. Nkem: Nkem .. .sir.
133. Mr O: You are welcome Nkem.
134. Mrs O: Honey why don’t you go and shower and change. Nkem follow me downstairs let us go and make your uncle’s dinner.
135. Nkem : yes ma..
136. Amina:So how was life initially with the okudili’s?
137. Nkem: It was not very easy but I tried my best…
138. Mrs O:You! Where do you think you are going?
139. Nkem: To..to school Aunty.
140. Mrs O: Have you scrubbed the bath rooms and toilets? What about the children clothes are they washed?
141. Nkem:Yes Aunty
142. Mrs O:Hmm well you can’t go today, I want you to wash all the curtains in the house
143. Nkem: Aunty please can I do it when I come back we are writing exams in school today…
144. Mrs O: (slaps her)Are you are arguing with me? Am I not the one paying your school fees? Those curtains had better be hanging outside and drying in the sun by the time I get back! You hear me?
145. Prosecution: My lord I object to this history class this court is been lectured in. The accused is not the only person in this world to have lost her father or been sent to leave with relatives. I fail to see the relevance of all this.
146. Amina: My lord I am only doing what the prosecutor was doing before establishing a foundation.
147. Judge: Overruled. I will allow this but only for while. Please get down to the facts.
148. Amina: Thank you my lord. Nkem so what happened next?
149. Fx: Door closes
150. Nkem: Uncle welcome.
151. Mr O: Thank you. Where is your aunty ?
152. Nkem: She has gone for Aunty chinyere all night wake keeping.
153. Mr O: I see. What about the children?
154. Nkem: They are asleep sir.
155. Mr O: Very good. Follow me upstairs I want you to do something for me.
156. FX: Climbing upstairs.
157. FX: Door open and closes
158. Mr O: You know since you came to the house a few months ago. You have really impressed me. You are a very hard working girl.
159. Nkem: Thank you sir.
160. Mr O: Come closer don’t be shy come and sit on the bed.
161. Nkem: Uncle, Uncle, what are you doing Uncle…
162. Mr O : Relax don’t be scared….
163. Amina: So he forced himself on you…
165. Amina: How old were you then?
166. Nkem: eleven
167. Fx: Court Murmuring
168. Judge: Silence, Silence in the court please.
169. Amina: Nkem please go on
171. Mr O: Shhh stop crying you will wake the children. Remove the bed sheet quickly and go and wash off the blood.
172. Nkem: …. I am going to tell aunty when she comes..
173. Mr O: tell her what? Tell. Her. What? You had better keep your mouth shut. Otherwise I will tell her brought a boy to the house and I caught the two of you together in the room.
174. Nkem: But, but … that is not true.
175. Mr O: She will believe me. So you better keep quiet. Now go and wash the bed sheet.
176. Amina: How many times did Mr Okudili force himself on you?
177. Nkem : I don’t know… any time Aunty was away he would come…
178. Amina: So the inevitable happened….
179. Nkem: Yes…
180. Nkem(being ill in the toilet): What is happening to me ? Why am I feeling like this…
181. Mrs O: Nkem! Nkem!
182. Nkem: Yes aunty I am coming
183. Fx(Toilet door opens and closes)
184. Nkem: Yes Aunty?
185. Mrs O: What is wrong with you?
186. Nkem:Aunty no…nothing
187. Mrs O:Nothing eh?You think I am fool? You think I have not notice the way you have been throwing up every morning? You have learnt the ways of adults at age eleven. Come here!
188. FX(Mrs O. Beginnings to flog Nkem and she screams, then sobs in the background)
189. Mrs O: Prostitute! Prostitute! You have learnt how to open your legs…
190. Mr O: What is it! What is it! What is going on here! Oluchi stop that do you want kill her? What has she done?
191. Mrs O: Ask her, ask her, Ashawoo! I have an eleven year old pregnant house girl my house!
192. Mr O: Pre..pre..pregnant are you sure?
193. Mrs O: Of course I am sure, I am not a child! I have two children of my own.
194. Mr O: But she may just be sick…
195. Mrs O: She is not just sick …she is having morning sickness!
196. Mr O: We can’t be sure about that… look let me take care of this….You go ahead with your trip to Abuja this morning. I’ll take her to the hospital. I am sure it’s nothing
197. Mrs O: There had better be nothing in there or I will kill her. (hisss!)Ashawoo!
198. Fx: Door opens and closes
199. Mr O(whispers): Stand up! Stand Up! Are you pregnant? I said are you pregnant?
200. Nkem(Sobbing): I don’t know… I don’t know
201. Mr O: Ah! You want to put me in trouble. Go and get dressed quickly! We are going to the hospital now! If you are pregnant we have to remove it immediately!
202. Amina: So the pregnancy was aborted and you aunty never got to know?
204. Amina: …this wasn’t the only time you got pregnant was it?
205. Nkem: No, each time I did, he would take me to go and remove it.
206. Amina: Nkem, How many abortions have you had?
207. Nkem: Six
208. FX: Crowd murmuring.
209. Mrs O: She is lying! She is lying oooo! My husband will never do such a thing!
210. Fx: Gavel banging
211. Judge: Order! Order in the court. Mrs Okudili I will have you removed if don’t calm down.
212. Prosecutor: My lord I object. All we have here are words, there is no proof what so ever that all these things ever took place.
213. Amina: My lord I have proof. I would like to submit Exhibit A, which is a full report of a medical exam conducted on the accused by a qualified medical practitioner. It shows that she has had nothing less than three abortions. I will also like to submit exhibit B. A file with the accused medical details confiscated from the illegal abortionist Mr. Okudili had been taken her to. The abortionist in question is at large and the police are looking for him.
214. Judge: Overruled. Please continue
215. Amina: Thank you. My lord. Nkem I can understand you were helpless when you were child. But when you got older couldn’t you have found a way out? Told somebody what was happening?
216. Nkem: The day I decided to run away, a message came from the village that my mum had died. So I couldn’t go anywhere. Last year I tried going to the police but they didn’t want to help me.
217. Amina: How come?
218. Nkem: The officer on duty said that I needed to drop “something“before he would even listen to me.
219. Amina: What did he mean by drop something?
220. Nkem: When I asked him to explain he said it was either I put money down or I lift my skirt up for him.
221. Fx:crowd murmuring
222. Prosecutor: objection! My Lord is there any proof that she went to the police station? This could all be a fabrication….
223. Amina: My Lord I would like to submit exhibit C, the log book from the police station. It shows that the accused had signed in and out of the station. It will also interest the court to know that the officer in question has been suspended, following several bribery allegations and gross sexual misconduct.
224. Judge: Overruled. Continue.
225. Amina: Nkem, please tell us now exactly what happened on the night Mr Okudili died
226. Nkem: I was tired… I couldn’t go on like this anymore… I refused to follow him up his room. He grabbed me and we struggled …I broke free and ran to the kitchen…
227. Fx: Kitchen door opens with a bang
228. Fx: (Woman heavy breathing )
229. Fx: Sound of draw opening+ cutlery scattering
230. Mr O:(off mike): Nkem, Nkem where are you running to?
231. Nkem (breathing heavily): Stay away! I swear if you come close I’ll use it!
232. Mr O: Aha! Nkem what are you doing with that?
233. Nkem(still breathing)
234. Mr O: Ok, calm down. It has not come to that.
235. Nkem(sobbing): Leave me alone, I am tired. It has happened again and I cannot do this anymore.
236. Mr. O: What has happened again? Oh that… It can easily be taken care of you, know that.
237. Nkem: I want all this to stop! I can’t go on…
238. Mr.O Alright calm down… take it easy… No problem…. Got you!!
239. Nkem ( Screams)
240. Mr. O: Stupid girl. You think can get away from me that easily…
241. Nkem: leave me! Leave me!Please leave me!
242. Mr. O: Will you shut up (slap her) crying as if you are not looking forward to it…
243. Fx: Clothes tearing
244. Nkem: No!!!
245. Mr. O: AaaaH! My eyes. Come back here!
246. Nkem: Screams
247. Fx : Sound off struggle in the kitchen
248. Mr. O : You can’t get away… you….aaah!
249. Nkem(heavy breathing) : My God! My God!
250. Mr. O:AaaaH (choking then dies)
251. Amina: Did you actually threaten him with the knife?
252. Nkem: No… I held the knife to my throat. I was going to stab myself if he came closer…When he grabbed me again the knife fell and wedged against one of the chairs that had fallen. We rolled and the next thing I knew there knife was in his back….
253. Amina: I have one more question. Nkem, what did you mean by it had happened again?
254. Nkem(Takes a deep breath): I am pregnant.
255. Amina: Thank you. Nkem. I have no further question my lord.
256. Judge: Prosecution do you have anything to say?
257. Prosecutor: No my lord.
258. Judge: I will listen to closing arguments tomorrow 10.00 am after which I will deliver my verdict. Court is adjourned
259. Fx ; Gavel
260. Amina: And so…my lord, in conclusion, when a child is born into this world, it automatically has certain basic rights, the right to a home, food, water, shelter, the right to be safe and protected from both physical and sexual abuse and they are meant to be structures in place to provide all these: Parents, relatives and finally the society itself. When all this structure fails, we have a case like Nkem’s. The aunty who did not care to notice what was going on under her own roof. Neighbours who probably heard her cries and knew something was wrong but said nothing. What about her school? Nobody there noticed anything, and let us not forget our ever-corrupt men of the law enforcement. So what are we condemning her for? An accident? Self defence? We were all supposed to have protected her and we failed. So, are we now going to remove the silent chains she has been wearing only to replace them with real ones? We must set her free, we must let her go, it is the only way we can even begin to redeem ourselves. Thank you.
261. Judge: I find Nkem Okonkwo…. not guilty. You’re free to go. We wish you all the best in life from now on…case dismissed.
262. Nkem(breaks down and cries)
263. Amina: Shh it’s ok. It’s all over… you are free now…